Philadelphia Inquirer - September 29, 1980
Green says Luzinski, Boone to sit
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Dallas Green wanted to be sitting there this morning, totally in control.
He didn't want to have to decide whether he would need Steve Carlton on the season's final Sunday.
He didn't want to have to decide whether to bench Greg Luzinski or even (gulp) Pete Rose.
He wanted the Phillies to be able to spend a relaxed four days pummeling the Cubs – and maybe even clinching a division title before they arrived in Montreal next weekend.
But all those dreams died when the Phils lost two straight to the Expos the last two days. Green faces decisions now – ones he didn't want to make.
He wanted his eight-man core to be his lineup down the stretch. He wanted to let them show they could win it. But what they have showed him is that they can't score runs. They have combined for just 11 runs and 31 hits in the five games in this homestand.
And so tonight, when the Phils begin a four-game series with the Cubs, some of the old, familiar faces will be missing from that lineup.
"I'm thinking of maybe playing the coaches tomorrow," Green joked. "They've been hitting pretty good, (quick smile) Nah, this is no joking matter, as you can well imagine. We're concerned. But there's not a lot I can do except change faces. And that's what I intend to do."
Green has four guys in offensive swoons now. One is Mike Schmidt (2-for-16). He isn't going anywhere. But the same can be said for the other three – Bob Boone (0-for-18), Greg Luzinski (2-for-21, nine strikeouts) and Rose- (4-for-35). The four are a combined 8-for-90.
Green said he definitely will play Lonnie Smith and Keith Moreland for Luzinski and Boone tonight. "They're the guys hitting.300," he said.
But bench Rose, the only Phillie who hasn't missed a game in two seasons? It was unthinkable once. But so was the thought of Rose actually going 4-for-35 or of him hitting.278 with a week to go in the season.
"I don't know about him yet," Green said, "I'll meet with the coaches tomorrow and discuss it, Pete's struggling, no question about that. We just have to talk about it. I'll talk to Pete a little about it, too.
"It's just that we're getting to the point where one day off really doesn't help that much. It's got to be three or four days off. And I just can't afford that luxury with some of our people."
One luxury Green was hoping he could afford was that of not using Carlton next weekend at all. He was hoping to be in a position to clinch Thursday and to pitch him then.
Now the earliest the Phillies could clinch (if they won four straight and the Expos lost three) is Friday. So Green knows Carlton must pitch in Montreal. What he hasn't figured out yet is when.
"I can stretch him out one more day and have him pitch the first game in Montreal," Green said. "Or I can move him up a day and have him pitch Wednesday and then the last game (Sunday)."
He knows only that Larry Christen-son will pitch tonight. He will meet with the coaches to figure out the rest of the week today. They also will try to figure out what's wrong with Bob Walk, who lost yesterday and now is 2-6 since Aug. 1, 1-5 since Aug. 16.
"For some reason he's not in sync right now," Green said. "We just have to figure out why. Would I consider not pitching him? No, you're running out of games now. You're probably going to have to stay with what you've got."
NOTES: The Expos' Ron LeFlore insists he is planning to cut the cast off his wrist today and start playing again. LeFlore fractured a bone in his wrist crashing into a wall Sept. 11 and was thought to. be out for the season. But LeFlore wants to play, and manager Dick Williams says that if the doctor OKs it, he will let him.... The Expos have their pitching set so the Phillies will see Scott Sanderson, Steve Rogers and Bill Gullickson next weekend, assuming all those games are meaningful.... The Expos stole two bases in four tries yesterday. So in the last four Montreal-Phillies series this year, they have stolen 21 times in 12 games and been caught six (two on pickoffs) Christenson vs. the Cubs' Rick Reuschel tonight.
If TV watches, all you see is money
By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor
The game began with the shadows creeping across home plate, edging toward the infielders. By the sixth inning, when a line drive off the bat of Chris Speier zipped past a temporarily blinded Garry Maddox for a game-breaking, two-run triple, the shadows covered most of the field, leaving only the centerfielder and the rightfielder standing in the sun, squinting through the lengthening shadows in an effort to pick up the ball.
You can't play baseball that way. No matter how talented you are. No matter how much is at stake. At least, you can't play, baseball the way the game is meant to be played, the way you'd expect to see it played when two good teams are fighting for first place with a week to go in the season.
I wonder what the nation's television viewers thought of yesterday's Phillies-Expos game? I wonder if enough of them stayed tuned in to make ABC happy? Or were they as bored as most of the 40,000 at Veterans Stadium watching batters flail at pitches they had trouble seeing early in the game and watching fielders grope for baseballs they had trouble picking up late in the game?
This is no attempt to alibi lor the Phillies. The way they're swinging the bats now they might have trouble hitting line drives off a batting tee. They lost yesterday's game on merit.
This is an attempt to register as strong a complaint as possible about a sport that has sold its soul to television in total disregard of what is happening to the game on the field, where it really matters.
No doubt Bowie Kuhn, baseball's beloved commissioner, is having a wonderful time counting the TV dollars as they roll in. It's safe to assume he could care less that a vital game scheduled to start at 1:35 p.m. before the shadows lengthened – had to be set back 90 minutes because ABC preferred the later start. If he did care, if he did understand, he wouldn't sit there,counting the TV dollars and taking bows, happily oblivious to the fact that the season's biggest games are being played under the worst possible conditions.
Football can be played reasonably well in the shadows, in the bright sun, in almost any conditions. Baseball can't. What a pity its commissioner doesn't understand that.
"Doesn't it bother you," a man asked Dallas Green after yesterday's 8-3 Expos win, "that a game this important has to be played under sub-par conditions dictated by TV?"
"It does," the Phillies manager replied quickly. "I've seen us get hurt by it too much. I saw that playoff game (in the rain), which was ridiculous. We know this time of day is awful (for playing baseball).
"I don't think the TV people have one iota of understanding about that, or really could care.... But I think we're talking about something neither you nor I nor anybody else is going to get changed."
Not as long as baseball has a commissioner whose only interest is maximizing the TV dollar – even if it means starting an All-Star Game at 5 p.m. in Los Angeles, when the batters are swinging at a virtually invisible baseball. Even if it means the possibility of playing night World Series games in Montreal in late October. Even if it means getting the Phillies to switch yesterday's big game to the worst possible time.
Maybe the folks in Des Moines and Peoria could see just fine on their local ABC channels yesterday, but the guys playing the game had a terrible time.
"It's unbelievable," Phillies shortstop Larry Bowa said. "The first four or five innings you can't see the ball in the field. The last four or five innings you can't see the ball at the plate."
Chris Speier, the Expos' shortstop and the man who hit the ball that Maddox failed to catch, knew exactly what Bowa meant.
"It's hard to judge the speed of the ball a lot of times when it comes out of the shadows into the sunlight," he said. "If they have a 1 o'clock game (a 1:35 start instead of the 3:05 start) my ball is caught by Garry. No doubt about that. It might have changed the whole complexion of the game. But both teams were playing in the same environment."
Indeed they were.. Ask Andre Dawson, the Montreal centerfielder. "The first four or five innings the sun's directly in the centerfielder's face," he said. "Then it shifts to the right a little bit. Anytime you got to go to your right, it's very tough. The ball Mike Schmidt hit that bounced over the wall (for a ground-rule double in. the third), I had a good jump on it and I lost the ball. It's one of those things."
Crazy, isn't it? Battle the better part of six months to set up a series of crucial games, and then be forced to play them at a time when the batters have trouble seeing the ball for half the game and the fielders have trouble seeing it the other half. It may be the same for both teams, but it isn't the way baseball should be played.
Which brings up an interesting point: Could the Phillies, as the home team yesterday, have thumbed their corporate noses at ABC and said, "Sorry, fellas, this game is scheduled to start at 1:35. It says so on our official schedule. It says so on all the tickets we sold. If you want to televise it, change your schedule. Don't expect us to change ours."?
Or does ABC, under the terms of its contract with major league baseball, have the right to set whatever starting time it desires?
"ABC didn't tell us," Phillies executive vice president Bill Giles said. "The commissioner's office does it. You can refuse to do it, I guess, but you get a lot of pressure to do it. ABC has a contract with baseball that pays a lot of money."
And, as the sport's beloved commissioner has made patently clear, the game of baseball must always take second place to the business of baseball.
Oh yeah, one more thing. The Phillies and the Expos are plunging pell-mell toward yet another showdown next weekend in Montreal's Olympic Stadium, where the shadows are even worse than they are at the Vet. The starting times for the last two games will be set back by NBC on Saturday and by ABC on Sunday to assure the worst possible conditions there.
Unless, of course, the games don't mean anything, in which case the Phillies and Expos will be permitted to play at a time of day conducive to good baseball.
Phillies fall to second, Expos, 8-3
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Two days ago, they were two games up in the loss column, had Steve Carlton going and had a chance to make their lives easy for once.
Now there is no more lead in any column, no more driver's wheel the Phillies can turn as they please, no more chances to make it easy.
It has become a classic Phillies season again – difficult and agonizing, with the usual supply of scapegoats and villains.
Yesterday's 8-3 loss to the Expos on ABC, preceded by Carlton's loss Saturday on NBC, made sure of that. The Phillies' three-day stay in first place is over. The Expos lead by a half-game again.
They are still even in the loss column. You can still say that. But there is an empty feeling to that, when measured against the opportunity that slipped away.
"A half-game up or a half-game down shouldn't make much difference, but it does because of the way we played," said Dallas Green. "I don't think anybody out in that locker room really can look in the mirror and say they're proud of the way we played the last two days.
"I don't think what you saw was Phillies baseball. It's proven not to be winning baseball, certainly."
Villains? Yesterday produced its share, as always. No classic Phillies season would be complete without them. Manny Mota and Ed Ott may fade away. But as quickly as they go, somebody else comes rolling off the assembly line.
After yesterday, we now can add to the list the president of ABC Sports, the crew that put the bounce in AstroTurf and one Eric Eugene Gregg, an umpire born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa.
Because of ABC, the game started late and Garry Maddox lost a decisive Chris Speier triple in the late-afternoon glare.
Because balls bounce higher on AstroTurf, Mike Schmidt wound up with a third-inning ground-rule double instead of what would have been a game-tying RBI at the time.
Because Gregg missed a call that denied Manny Trillo an infield single in the eighth, the Phillies' one last-gasp rally was defused.
All of that happened. All of that had an effect. If it weren't for bad luck yesterday, the Phillies would have had none at all. But there was more to what happened this weekend than luck.
"When you get down to this end of the stick, a lot of times it's better to be lucky than good," said Green; "They had their share of luck today. They had their share of good. We didn't have either.
"You want 'ifs,' you got 'em. the ball doesn't bounce over the fence, we get more runs. the ball the Bull hit (with two on in the third) gets over the second baseman, we get something going. If the guy (Gregg) doesn't blow the call, we've got something going.
"We had some 'ifs,' sure. But the fact is that we really didn't play that well. That's what bothers me more than anything else. I don't necessarily believe the old theory that the luckiest team wins. I don't know what luck is sometimes. I just know they hit the ball, they caught the ball, they threw the ball. And we didn’t do either."
The Expos had winner Steve Rogers (16-11) overcoming some early problems to throw a gorgeous five-hitter. The Phillies had loser Bob Walk (10-7) throwing 100 pitches in five innings and having to work furiously to keep the Phils within 2-1.
They also had reliever Dickie Noles coming in to walk the leadoff hitter in the sixth, setting off a chain of events that would lead to Maddox' sun problems. The Expos had 11 hits, including two homers and four RBls from catcher Gary Carter. The Phillies got a combined 0-for-14 from Pete Rose, Greg Luzinski, Trillo and Bob Boone. At least two of those guys won't be in the lineup tonight, Green said.
The Expos got a fine sliding catch from Rowland Office in right, not to mention all the routine plays. When people rehash the way the Phillies fielded, they will think mostly about the third episode in the Garry Maddox Sunglasses Chronicles.
Maddox may run down every baseball hit between Wilmington and Bucks County after dark. But nobody has had this many problems with the sun since Icarus, the famous mythological character whose wings melted on his way to the perfect tan.
It was still a 2-1 game in the sixth at the time of this latest episode. Noles had allowed a walk and a single. There was one out. Speier lined a 1-0 pitch to center. Maddox started toward the ball, then suddenly waved frantically as it descended out of the glare and soared by to the wall.
It was a two-run triple that put the Expos up, 4-1. A moment later, Rogers bounced an RBI single through a drawn-in infield that wouldn't have been drawn in had Speier's ball been an out. And Carter's second homer, a two-run shot off Kevin Saucier an inning later, finished off whatever hope was left.
On the two balls Maddox lost in the sun four weeks earlier in San Diego, he left his sunglasses in his pocket. At least yesterday he got them all the way to his face. But he never flipped them down after the ball was hit.
"I didn't think it made any difference," the centerfielder said. "The first thing you have to do is go for the ball, which I did. Glasses don't help you on a ball directly in the sun."
Green was under the impression at first that Maddox had the glasses down. He was annoyed when he discovered otherwise.
"He may still have missed the baseball," Green said. "But at least if he wears them he doesn't get the question asked or the doubt in anybody's mind. It's that simple. I can see better with sunglasses on than with sunglasses off when the sun's shining."
Of course, had none of that ever happened, Carter's bat or Rogers' arm still might have been enough.
Carter now has 29 homers and 99 RBIs, more than any catcher in baseball. He homered five times on the 13-game Expos road trip that ended yesterday. Rogers is 4-1 with a 2.16 earned-run average this month, including crucial wins over the Pirates and Phillies.
Two days ago, they and their teammates were the guys up against it. They are only a half a game ahead now, but it seems like they have somehow accomplished more than that.
"I think this weekend has been a very big one for us," said Carter. "It's turned out to be a momentum-builder and definitely a confidence-builder."
"What happened the last two days was not an accident," said Rogers, "nor is it a fairy tale. Nobody went out there and sprinkled magic powder.
"I don't mean to go popping off. I can understand they were confident with Carlton going. But as Larry Parrish said, we've had a lot of opportunities to roll over and die. But we haven't done it, and we won't."